Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Architecture: Heritage, Traditions and Innovations (AHTI 2022)

Contemporary Landmarks of the Architectural Environment: Artistic Dynamics
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The stated theme appeared out of reflections on the confrontation of the poles of today's architectural world: the manifestations of the humanitarian and technological, the sublime and the pragmatic, revealed in the course of our joint research under the supervision of I.A. Dobritsyna. This formulation of the problem oriented the author to the description of today's environmental realities and the involvement of the professional and the consumer in them, as well as aimed him at finding vectors of development of the artistic potential of the environment and trying to give a forecast for the future.

Let us turn to the artistic dynamics of the architectural environment, which is currently in a state of complex equilibrium. To be described honestly, the situation in general, is devoid of harmony of measures and “far from the balance”, which often turns into a real drama, but at the same time it generates a strong potential for thinking and creativity. Indeed, the fate of each of the currently visible trends in the aesthetic interpretation of urban space cannot be considered fully fulfilled. The historical and cultural environment, while remaining an anchor in the cultural identity, and often the basis, the core of the spatial framework of the city, is extremely vulnerable and is often reduced to a formal list of cultural heritage sites. Urbanism and design, solving undoubtedly important urgent problems of urban communities and the individual as such, do not have a completely convincing artistic strategy. We should admit that landscaping initiatives are characterized by an alarming, if not frightening, monotony of approaches around the world, dictated by the current fashion. It is very doubtful to insist that one or another, even a perfect system, can offer a single mechanism for “choosing” aesthetic solutions. We would like to believe that this choice is still an innermost secret and is carried out outside of any designated “competencies”.

An artist, in turn, always leaves a tangible trace, since his statement is informal and realizes the vital power of an individual, but how much can the said trace be preserved and recognized? Existing independently, as if “acting” separately, the architecture, design and art complicate the situation, claiming to be the sole “truth”. The perceiver, as a result, is most often not ready to accept the update of the environment, since it is, in fact, aggressive and not holistic.

Where can the path to the interconnected creation of environmental meanings and images be found, and, moreover, on the counter courses of the professional field and consumer thinking? A productive resource seems to be the appearance of unified holistic communities, integral environmental connections in the space of the city. Their physical stability and durability are not so necessary, as they can be extended in the mental or in the virtual space.


Let us turn to some important artistic resources of the formation of today's architectural environment and identify the most influential of them.

  • Interpretation of images of the past. Living history.

  • Theatricality and theatricalization. Game strategies.

  • Creative scenarios of social processes [1].

  • Real living of the art. Artistic interventions.

  • Art integration in the latest architecture.

  • Methods of art integration [2].

  • The potential of artistic co-creativity.

  • The concept of nature as the most natural and authentic environment.

  • Conceptualization. Virtual worlds.

  • Urban environment as an integral background.

In addition to these positions, a significant role is played by common trends in world culture, primarily related to the further expansion of digital media.

The digitalization of everyday life opens up a hitherto unknown, though somewhat predictable, environmental history: the possibility of a total media environment. The advantage of media solutions lies on the surface: ability to quickly change the image and create almost any atmosphere, complete modification of the appearance of the environmental fragment. In its limit, the media environment may even exist outside of physical binding, immersing a person in the virtual world. Whether this “place” is an architectural environment is not an unambiguous question.

Another environmental issue, actualized within the framework of the topic, focuses on problems of digital images and forms [3]: their humanity, readability by a person, in particular, the ways of coexistence in the historical environment. The parametric doctrine, according to the well-known Manifesto of P. Schumacher in 2008, initially professes the principle of “responsiveness”, a soft, consistent growth into the environment, into the landscape, into the urban structure and fabric of the place [4]. However, this line is not without contradictions, two of which seem to be the most significant. First, it is a moment of duality in the origin of the formal language of the parametric architecture, the non-linearity of which still looks more like a tribute to the mythology of the pioneers, rather than the only possible one. In fact, the parametric methods can be applied with almost any aesthetic code. The second point is related to the degree of realizability of the principles of harmony: the technogenic most often looks alien, despite the declared friendliness to the environment.

It should be noted that the effect of falling into the “uncanny valley” (a term introduced by Japanese robotics professor and engineer Masahiro Mori) has been actively discussed for some time. His hypothesis implies that a robot or another object that looks or acts roughly like a human (but not exactly like a real one) causes dislike and disgust in human observers. Here we are faced with the motive of substitution, the risk of “forgery”, a simulacrum of living reality...

It is possible that technology simply has not yet crossed a certain threshold that separates the artificial and the natural for humans. The opposite is also important: the fact that a person is probably moving consistently towards that “threshold”, only from the other side … We have not yet crossed the marked line, but this watershed is predicted and interpreted with different signs by many researchers. I.A. Dobritsyna considers the search for the human dimension in the article “Aggression and Defense: The Problem of the Aesthetics of ‘Strangeness’ in Architecture” [5], referring to the complex dialogue of the “Beautiful” and the “Sublime”, as well as to the eternal problem of representation of these categories. A.G. Rappaport, concerned about the preservation of the autonomy of the profession, comes to the ideas of the unifying architectural substance and the desired ideals of the ritual meaning of architecture, which presuppose the close involvement of a person [6]. I.A. Bondarenko addresses possibilities of a consistent and non-violent architectural and urban planning policy that allows for everyone to speak out and in this way respecting the user of the space [7]. Thus, we see a noble desire of the theorists to see and preserve the full significance of a man in the architecture and the architectural environment. Let us turn to a comprehensive review of its current potential.


Summing up some intermediate results, it should be noted that today's architectural environment balances simultaneously on several spatial, disciplinary and mental boundaries and is conditioned largely by the dynamics of mutual transitions from one pole to another. Thus, in the aspect of new qualities of environmental wholes, we come to the problem of reality, the possible number of “realities”, a person's trust in his environment and, as a result, his creative abilities. The artistic principle here can act as a way of creating aesthetic qualities and as a way to correct the attitude to space. Let us fix roughly the current qualities of the urban environment through the prism of the issues under consideration.

Quality 1

Humanity or humanism are central concepts in environmental design, based on attention to the individual and his social roles. It is noteworthy that the humane in a certain sense can be understood as something created by a man or something that preserves his touch. Such a living touch can be carried out outside of the physical reality, giving rise to the animateness of the environment in the user's mind. Eventfulness, performativity [8], different modes of living in the space: these qualities determine the current feature of the activity principle in the environment. The long-desired, but difficult to achieve involvement of the user in the professional field in order to respond to his requirements, forms an environment of participation. However, it is necessary to remember about a certain independent humane mode of the environment, manifested in its very existence, without human participation.

Quality 2

The artistic consistency, fullness, expressiveness of the architectural environment is actualized today precisely as an interconnected integral area, including the potential of architectural spaces and works themselves, artistic interventions, everyday and event-based conditions of urban (and wider) life, as well as certain “extensions” in the atmospheres and aura of the place. Auras of personality, time, myth are those realities that help the images’ living in the environment. A full-fledged artistic history of the environment is formed as a co-creation of an architect, a designer, an artist and a recipient of the creative message [9]. Strictly speaking, none of the mentioned actors retains its tightness and narrow professional orientation, changing roles, activities, methods of communication and media.

Multi-faceted creativity is characteristic of the environment in the counter courses of two vectors of the creative act: creation and reading. Both form the basis of an environmental dialogue, in which the recipient is sometimes no less important than the author. The environment in its constant development goes through different stages (from degradation to creation), accepts or does not accept changes, responds to initiatives and transformations, or “freezes” in time. In this regard, it makes sense to talk about the environmental experiment as a natural phase of the development of a city or another place. The least painful way of such experimentation “on the live” opens up today thanks to the possibilities of temporary figurative transformation, embedded in the strategy of theatricality. The architectural space tries on different roles through bold interventions or temporary actions. This artistic resource is realized in two ways. On the one hand, it can be understood as a laboratory of emotional and formal limits of the surrounding space: extremes of formation, aesthetic renewal, justification and demand for urban environmental “performance”. On the other hand, theatricality can be experienced by the user of the space as an internal experience of an accentuated, scripted perception of a city or other habitat, forming a degree of responsiveness and awareness.

Quality 3

Authenticity is another essential measure in the design and perception of the architectural environment. In the historical context, this quality presupposes the truth of experiencing the traces of the past, as well as the truth of the design process itself. In this regard, an important statement is the nature of the work of an architect, who almost approaches activity of a philosopher, a poet or an artist in his successful works. The adopted official regulation is able (but very conditionally) only to set certain conditions of preservation of a material monument, while the organics of creation of a new interconnected whole occurs only at the level of a creative act. Inclusion of history in the flow of life is of particular importance, which enhances the vital properties of historical material.

The architectural environment connects and reconciles, having, by definition, qualities of universality, multidimensionality and openness. The environment is always “between” objects, or objects are included in the environment as a kind of “generalization” that has unity. Intermediateness, “hybridity”, variability, media coverage are today's characteristics of the environmental whole. The heterogeneity of the environment is hardly a disadvantage, but rather an indicator of the eternal incompleteness of the environmental whole: its dynamics. The environment makes a constant transition from the past to the future, which we fix in the present. A stable state at one stage or another is no more than an instant, while the immaterial plans of the architectural environment act as its continuation in the mental cultural field. Formation of an artistically integral architectural environment at each point of space and time is conditioned by the integrative dynamics of its complex unity.


The concept of the environment is interpreted as an integral (integrating) background. The environment represents a “field” or a kind of plasma, i.e. a fluid, flexible, not fully defined, but at the same time containing much state of urban “matter”. Such a mobile unity is in constant formation, transformation, in the metamorphosis of forms and meanings. The environment unites the material and mental planes of human existence and even wider, beyond the human dimension. The environment combines spatial and temporal dimensions. The environment becomes a place of meeting, dialogue, interweaving almost all aspects of life of a person, and not only his. Finally, the environment can realize the union of life and art [10].

The current state of the urban environment is characterized by a number of features: continuity and complexity, combination of old and new, beautiful and frightening, transformability, mobility, instability in general, inclusion of human resources, including creative ones. The potential for meeting and acting together, inextricably linked to life at every point in time, is becoming an increasingly significant asset of the environment. It not only builds a system of relations “artist-work-recipient” with change of roles, but also prepares the contact of different conceptual series and qualities, “high” and “low” genres, consumption and free creativity. In many ways, a new mode of artistic communication is seen here, more spontaneous, but this is also significant. Hence, it is necessary to be ready for updating the environment philosophy, both in perception and in design.

Let us recall how Yu. P. Volchok thought about the existence of the “modern” in the long evolution of culture [11]. Ideas and stories as if sprout in different geographies, at different times, presented by the words of various cultural figures in a single dynamic field of human civilization.

Architecture lives in time and constantly “competes” with it! New tectonics, meanings, and versions of the understanding of space emerge. Most often, time overtakes the architecture burdened with material. Sometimes, on the contrary, ambitious architecture moves forward, leaving behind the limits of what was previously allowed and understood. In the updated professional field, materiality, static, unambiguous perception have long been destroyed, and disciplinary boundaries and genre facets have been shifted. At the same time, the architectural profession is constantly building up new and new connections with different fields of science, social spheres and management models. Architecture claims to cover the entire environment of modern human life having stepped far beyond the limits of a single object. Constant creative dialogue with representatives of other arts and with the user of the architectural space prepares and supports the emergence of a single field “architecture-design-art” as a new environmental connection in the context of the professional activity of the architect. We emphasize that this connection is environmental, based on a new expanded interpretation of the boundaries of the architectural object and space, covering both the real space of modern life and the worldview models of professional consciousness.


Thus, it is possible to manifest a certain individual “poetic” mode of living, experiencing and creating an architectural space, the environment that combines concepts of humanity, trust, personal history and personal sensory optics. Perhaps, in it, there is a desired turn of a new mythopoetic reality, or rather, realities. The movement “... to the environment poetry” is an attempt to extend the architectural sense beyond the limits of regulations, as an alternative, a conscious antithesis to the mundane, pragmatic, but, at the same time, co-existing with it in a single actual field, in a state of complex and fragile balance. It should be noted that it is more useful today to find the declared high motives in the flow of life, in the course of everyday life, that is not devoid of acute problems and contradictions.


This article was prepared in the course of research according to the Plan of Fundamental Scientific Research of the RAACS and the Ministry of Construction of Russia, 2022.


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Cite This Article

AU  - Mikhail Dutsev
PY  - 2023
DA  - 2023/01/10
TI  - Contemporary Landmarks of the Architectural Environment: Artistic Dynamics
BT  - Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Architecture: Heritage, Traditions and Innovations (AHTI 2022)
PB  - Athena Publishing
SP  - 235
EP  - 239
SN  - 2949-8937
UR  -
DO  -
ID  - Dutsev2023
ER  -